The eight member Arctic Council granted permanent observer status to Japan, China, India, Italy, Singapore and South Korea as another sign of the region’s growing importance to the international community. Meanwhile, the council also granted observer status to the European Union but they deferred on giving them permanent observer status.
The Arctic Council, composed of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States, was created to bolster cooperation on issues involving the region such as environmental protection, oil and mineral exploitation, shipping, tourism and fishing. The six countries, which will join seven other countries as observers, will automatically be invited to the group’s meetings but they will have no voting powers. Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt chaired the meeting held in Kiruna, Sweden and said that including these countries further “strengthens the position of the Arctic Council in the international scene.”
Danish Foreign Minister Villy Soevndal said that there are now many countries outside of the Arctic that have a growing interest in the development of the region. The Arctic is believed to hold around 90 billion barrels of oil and 30% of the world’s natural gas resources which has yet to be discovered. Global warming has caused the melting of the ice which in turn has led to several transport routes to open up, therefore granting access to several mineral resources.
[ via Yahoo ]
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